The Growth of the Sales Operations Community and Why EXCEED Matters

Christine Maxey
Director of Enterprise Solutions, LeanData

[Editor's note: A special thanks to LeanData for being a gold sponsor at EXCEED 2017!]

Let me start by first saying this: As a sales operations professional, I 100% want to attend the EXCEED conference next year.


I want to get better. We all do. Practitioners want to be successful. More importantly, we want to help our businesses grow and thrive. EXCEED is one of the new events that bring sales ops pros together so we can learn from one another and gain a better understanding of our evolving role, which now touches virtually every aspect of the business. For me, this is another indication about how there is a real sales ops community beginning to emerge, and we need to embrace it. In fact, we have to begin building our "brand."

Marketers, for instance, understand that a huge part of their job is brand awareness. It's in their personalities. They're always going to conferences, sharing best practices, and just being, well, "out there." Now that sales ops is going through a rebranding of sorts, we need to think the same way.

I know firsthand that it can be harder for those of us in sales ops. It's not necessarily that we're introverts, but it's just not our nature to toot our own horns. We're helpers. We're not motivated by closing the big deal or hitting the gong. We're driven by making other people successful. That's why we're such good, trusted advisors.

But now that there's a growing realization of how fundamentally important sales ops is to business success, we've begun stepping out of the shadows. We're no longer "just" fix-it admins. We have more responsibility in helping chart the course at our companies. That also means stepping out of our comfort zones. (For instance, I recently wrote about how one big change for me was learning how to be an internal advocate for technology tools that I thought could help my business.)

Our role is changing. That means that we need—and want—to learn from our peers' experiences. That's why EXCEED matters.

I was humbled to be invited to lead one of the roundtables and also take part in some of the other discussions. What I learned is literally too long to list here. But I do want to share four key takeaways for me.

From Reactive to Proactive

There was a lot of conversation about not getting caught up in the sales ops "box." Again, we want to be the go-to helpers. It's who we are. At the same time, there's clearly a realization that we practitioners have to be strong advocates not just for ourselves, but the role itself. Sales ops no longer is just about implementing strategy handed down from above. It's about using data to help craft the strategy in the first place. But my sense is that we're still not quite adept at making that argument. In other words, we all need to learn to become more comfortable putting on those marketing hats to persuade our management teams that we can affect the trajectory of the business.

One Benefit of Technology

As we all know, emerging tech tools are allowing us to do our jobs better. But it was interesting to listen to others talk about how technology not only is giving us better data to analyze but also freeing up time to really dig into the more strategic aspect of the job.

How to Motivate Sales Ops

There were some interesting conversations around compensation plans for sales ops. Should there be a commission? Bonuses based on company-wide goals? But what resonated for me was how real motivation isn't necessarily measured by money. Rather, it's about our ability to move the needle. It's important for sales ops to feel like the work we're doing truly is influencing the growth of our companies. In other words, happiness comes when we feel that our roles are truly valued.

Emotional Quotient

The most respected people I've met in sales ops have a high EQ. They're listeners. They're always thinking. They have a lot to say, but they listen more than they talk. And when they do say something, it's succinct and well-thought-out. Being around so many talented sales ops people at EXCEED was a great reminder that just listening can be one of the most important things we do, because it's only after we really understand the challenges we face that we can offer knowledgeable solutions.

A Note About the Author

Christine Maxey is Director of Enterprise Solutions at LeanData, which helps more than 250 fast-growing businesses succeed through intelligent lead management. She previously was the Lead Business Analyst and Admin for Salesforce at Pivotal. A graduate of Baldwin Wallace University with bachelor's and master's degrees, Maxey is an avid runner and proud Ohio native. (Go Cavs!)